My big 16-pound black kitty Walter found his way into my life when he was just 6 months old back in 2013. My bandmate Megan, who worked with rescue animals at the time, was on the subway and encountered a child with a cardboard box trying to get rid of a kitten. After she saw the tiny black ball of fur in the box she brought him back home with her until she could find him a forever home. He spent time there with her 3 other cats and a big lovely dog named Sarge. I stopped by to meet Walter and it was love at first sight! He was so small, but had such a mischievous personality and looked like a little vampire. He also did the strangest trick (which he still does now today): if you hold him on his back and rub his hips and his shoulders, he’ll stretch out his legs all the way and let you rub his belly.Walter and I bonded very quickly. He was incredibly friendly and playful from the moment I brought him home. At the time, I was living with my girlfriend and she had another larger and older cat who wasn’t thrilled about a new kitten in the house. Walter terrorized him (in a playful way!), but eventually they started to tolerate each other. After she and I broke up, she took the larger cat with her and Walter was able to spread out and enjoy the whole apartment.
I never expected Walter to grow as large as he did, and honestly, I didn’t even realize how large he was until I’d go see other friends’ cats. As a very tall person I find his size to be just right—we’re both very big! He’s generally a very friendly, playful, and silly cat. He purrs extremely loudly and is very chatty, even when food isn’t involved! Throughout the years, he’s proven to be a constant source of joy, love, and comfort. I think he loves to be the center of attention; he often meows just so I’ll pick him up or pet him or play with him. He also loves meeting new people. The minute a new person comes in, he immediately comes over and says hello and demands attention.A couple months ago, I was walking to the L train and decided to stop in at Rough Trade on the way but got distracted by a giant pink building. I, of course, wandered into the building and discovered it was some kind of Alice in Wonderland themed selfie pop up. I didn’t have time to really go in but they had a little shop in the main entrance and I decided to look around. Among all the cute pastel stuff was this little black cat case that was clearly hand made by someone. I bought it immediately because it looked like Walter.
I consider Walter to be my familiar. As a practicing witch (mainly utilizing the magic of color and makeup) he’s usually always with me as I get ready, mostly offering moral support. A familiar is traditionally a demon who takes the form of an animal and protects and assists a witch, both of which I feel like Walter does, perhaps in a less direct way than folklore would suggest. I plan to learn more in Sarah Potter and Kristen Solee’s class on cat magic and bring Walter more into my practice. I hope we can do Tarot together and I can learn to do readings for Walter.I’m at work every day except Tuesdays and Sundays, but once I’m home he’s never too far away from me. He’s usually excited to see me when I get home, and will often hop in my lap and demand some scratches or cuddles. Generally, if I’m in my room he’s sleeping on the bed or sitting somewhere nearby, and he always sleeps in the bed with me. Every night before I go to sleep he’ll climb up on the bed and jump on top of me and “make muffins” and lie down for a bit. Eventually he’ll go sleep at the end of the bed, which is his favorite spot in the room. He’s actually a bit of a needy cat when it comes to love and attention, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.Walter has really provided me with a source of companionship and love. I never really feel completely alone because I know he’s somewhere nearby, and that truly is a wonderful thing. If I’m away from him for an extended period of time I really notice his absence. I never want to have children and have always said the only thing I really need is a cat (and some dolls!) to take care of and love.
Amy Mills is a 33-year-old queer trans woman living in Manhattan. She works as a luthier, photographer, musician, historian, and enjoys makeup art and fashion as well as dolls and lacemaking.